Interview with NPR reporter and author Celeste Headlee – We Need To Talk

I recently hosted TED speaker, NPR host, and journalist Celeste Headlee to talk about her newest book We Need To Talk. Her book will teach you how to have better conversations. 

About the book: In We Need to Talk, Headlee outlines the strategies that have made her a better conversationalist – and offers simple tools that can improve anyone’s communication. Whether you’re struggling to communicate with your kid’s teachers at school, an employee at work, or the people you love the most – Headlee offers smart strategies that can help us all have conversations that matter. Celeste’s TED Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation was listed as one of the most watched TED talks in 2016 (CNBC) and named the #1 must-watch TED talk for every recruiter and hiring manager (Glassdoor).

If you would like to read a free chapter of We Need To Talk, you can find it here.

See also  Interview with Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe

Her talk covers the following topics:

  • The smarter you are, the harder it is to be good in conversation
  • How system one thinking is really useful
  • Modeling behavior is strong among humans and how it can affect others
  • The decline of empathy throughout the years and the impact on younger generations
  • Human skill versus technological skill
  • How we rate our conversational skills higher than they really are
  • And much more!

Notes from the talk:

Celeste Headlee: “We Need to Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter” | Talks at Google

  • We rate our conversational skills higher than they are 1:01
    • The smarter you are, the harder it is to be good in conversation 1:09
      • System one thinking 2:15
      • Modeling behavior 6:59
      • Empathy 10:41
      • Human skill versus technological skill 12:53
      • The ten steps to having better conversations
        1. Don’t multitask 16:23
        2. Don’t pontificate 18:01
        3. Open ended questions 20:44
        4. Go with the flow 23:58
        5. If you don’t know, say so 25:00
        6. Don’t equate your experience with others 27:04
        7. Don’t repeat yourself 29:52
        8. Stay out of the weeds 31:28
        9. Listening 32:41
        10. Be brief 36:46
        11. Neural coupling 38:24


(39:54) When did you have the epiphany to start writing this book?

(41:54) Why do you think we focus so much time on becoming better communicators and not listeners?

(43:34) Does that connect to your other point about how you said younger generations are showing an empathy gap?

(46:02) You talked about the breakdown of communication between groups with different viewpoints. What do you think we can do to improve those lines of communication?

(47:44) That kind of ties into how we’re cognitive misers and we like to be in comfortable situations. How do you remind yourself about these ten conversations tips? Do you have any cues that you use?

(50:59) You talked about the person who had the stickers in the back of their car. Are those similar to conversation hooks?

(52:11) So, regarding that feeling of failure about not talking to somebody. How can people overcome that? Are there simple tricks? How do you overcome the fear of failure?

Audience Questions:

(53:43) I’m wondering if you have any thoughts besides modeling, maybe, of how we can get especially the younger generation to maybe put down the phone once in awhile and have a conversation

(55:35) Are there tips and tricks for conversations that are, perhaps not email, but phone or video conference?

(57:45) Are you familiar with another TED talk called, “The Power of Vulnerability.” I’m curious about how that fits into what you’re talking about because it seems to be a thing that opens up good conversation but is more about talking instead of listening.

See also  Investors Therapy Session #1: How to Become an Angel Investor with Yigit Ihlamur
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments